Just Legalize It.

Daniel MuthSenior Analyst IAugust 9, 2008

You know the old NASCAR proverb, “if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin’?”

Well, it seems more and more that this might as well be the credo of the Olympic Games.

Though we grow up hearing things like “cheaters never prosper,” and “honesty is the best policy,” it’s becoming more and more clear that this isn’t exactly true.  Cheaters break hallowed home run records, win Cy Young awards, run the fastest 100m, swim the deftest strokes, and win the Tour de France.  Cheaters earn endorsement deals and reap millions of dollars. 

And when cheaters get caught they lie.

They lie in the face of lock-tight evidence to the contrary.  They claim that the drug tester set them up, that their wife did HGH but not them, that the size of their incredibly growing head is a natural condition.  They lie so much that it becomes incredible for us to believe that anyone is capable of telling the truth, except for the few  whom actually have the candor to admit it when they get caught.  It’s become so that an admission of guilt is the only answer we can really believe.

And so when you see American and Russian women getting booted from their respective swim teams,  and weightlifters and sprinters ensconced in controversy, before the games even begin, how can we have confidence that ANYONE is clean?  The answer is that we can’t.  We’ve just been burned too many times now.

It’s become abundantly clear that dopers aren’t just representative of a nefarious few, are abundantly peppered through the highest echelons of competition, and seem to be morally unencumbered as to the fairness of drug use.

It’s also worth mention that drugs as common as HGH are still not reliably testable, as the substance breaks down quickly in the body, and leaves very few traces behind.  This combined with a new generation of drugs, that aren’t being tested for, and the new, almost terrifying emergence of “gene doping,” and it’s clear that there are many options for the athlete determined to cheat.

I used to love the Olympics.

I remember how my Dad and I used to watch them back in the day, and how proud I was of our amateur athletes, and their dedication to the purest form of competition. 

Of course, they were doping in those days too. 

The East German women’s swim team was being injected with bull testosterone, and the eastern European weightlifter’s were about to explode with turgor.   But even when that was confirmed, you somehow had the feeling that they were an exception to the rule.  That “those evil communists” were up to their old tricks. 

In the end though, our guys were eventually caught cheating too, with disturbing regularity.

If you ain’t cheatin’ then you ain’t tryin’.

If doping is undetectable, cheaters and liars are available, and public perception is still buried in the sand, then how can we possibly clean it up?

The answer is we can’t, and for me this irrevocably tarnishes the Olympic luster.

Capitalism tainted them, but doping is killing them. 

So I say Legalize it. 

At least then we know the playing field is level,  and our medal winners aren’t simply the ones who haven't been caught.